Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Friend of the Family - Lisa Jewell

Let me start by saying that I have loved all of the Lisa Jewell books I have read so far. This one was no exception although it took me a little time to get into the characters and really start to care about them, but, I am glad I did because it turned out to be a really good story.

Bernie has three son's, Tony, Sean and Ned. Each of the boy's had a perfect upbringing and even as adults, love to head back home for Sunday lunch whenever they can. One day Bernie brings home a new lodger, Gervase, who is a strange character and the boys get a little suspicious. Gervase gets close to everyone at one time or another and slowly things come out in the open that have been hidden for too long.

This is a tale about family life, siblings and the ties that bind. It is a heart warming story and has a touch of magic in there too.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Mission to Murder - Lynn Cahoon

Oh dear! This is the third book I have given up on this year which equals the same amount of abandoned books I had in the whole of 2013!

Why? I ask myself. Especially as I do so hate to give up on book!

Well, I have a theory.........

About this time last year I began to include books in my TBR pile which I would not previously have put in there. After having a couple of unexpected successes in the types of genre which include more light hearted, comedic murder mysteries/detectives and more witchy/magic type stuff I have now come to the conclusion that these kinds of books are more difficult to get right and their fans have limitations and differentiations. Humorous stories/thrillers, vampire-y/witchy types have to be very much to a person's taste and as a result not everyone will get along with them all as easily as say a fairly straight forward, light romance which follows a straightforward path to the end. And this is the case with this book.

A Mission to Murder had a 4.43 star rating on Goodreads when I was deciding to buy it or not, so I thought I would give it a go having had great experiences reading fairly similar books by authors like Jana Deleon and Liliana Hart, within the last few months. However, I just couldn't get into the voice of Lynn Cahoon. The basic story has potential but the main protagonist really annoyed me and why on earth her boyfriend was so patient with her, I have no idea. I persevered with it until 32% in on my kindle and then gave up, quoting to myself my new mantra of: "There are too many other books out there I would enjoy reading more than this"

I am not saying it is a bad book or badly written - who am I to criticise, after all! I am just saying that it wasn't for me.

No point rating as didn't finish!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Secrets of the Lighthouse - Santa Montefiore

It is a long time since I read a story that I didn't want to end (The last one was The Book Thief which I read a couple of years ago). I always get stuck between wanting to read faster to find out what happens and wanting to slow down the reading pace to savour the story and the characters. Secrets of the Lighthouse was one of these books.

Ellen Trawton is running away from her life in London, domineering mother and impending marriage to William. She heads to her aunt Peg's home in Connemara, Ireland, the one place she knows her mother will not dare to come for her. Her mother has been completely estranged from her sister, Peg, since she left her hometown over thirty years ago and has never returned. When Ellen arrives she is surprised to meet uncle's, auntie's and cousin's she had no idea existed. Her mother has kept so much from her and everyone else Ellen meets seems to be covering something up. It is inevitable that as time unfolds Ellen learns many things about her mother's family, secrets about her mother's past and secrets about a great tragedy that happened to a beautiful young woman, five years previously, at the derelict Lighthouse on the beach, close to her aunt's house.

This book was an absolute joy to read and as well as a few tearful moments and several laugh-out-loud pieces of dialogue the descriptions of rural Ireland are breath taking. The Byrne family, Ellen belongs to, are loving, protective and caring and I loved the way their characters were drawn.

There are very few books I read more than once but this will be one of them.


Saturday, June 7, 2014

Half Bad - Sally Green

My lovely friend, Kate Steadman, sent me this book with a little note attached saying......"I've popped this book in because you mentioned A Discovery of Witches (which I loved!) I read Half Bad a few weeks ago and it really made me think of Deborah's book. The characters are younger in this book but I was gripped from the start - think I read it in just over a day!", I couldn't wait to start reading it!

Half Bad is the first book in a Trilogy by Sally Green called Half Life. It is a uniquely, spellbinding story about a boy, Nathan, who is unusual in a divided world of White and Black witches. His mother was a white witch and his father is the most infamous and sought after black witch, Marcus Edge. Because of this, Nathan is known as a Half Code and is shunned by all in the community of white witches he lives in. Not long after he was born  his mother committed suicide and so his gran became his carer and brought him up along with his two half sister's and his half brother, Arran. His brother and gran are Nathan's only source of affection, and everyone else, other than a white witch school friend called Annalise, hate him and he is set apart often for taunting or a beating.

Black witches have been almost hunted out of existence in Europe and The Council of Witches of England, Scotland and Wales, which runs the white witch community are determined in their quest to catch Marcus Edge. They don't really know what to do with Nathan but they recognise he is valuable to them in their quest.

This story is dark and haunting. There are very few chinks of light in Nathan's life. I am a little squeamish in my entertainment tastes. I choose not to watch violent films or read horror stories because I don't do violence very well, but, even though this story is brutally violent in parts, it is entirely compelling and I just couldn't put the book down. At one point I had to stop reading and calm my heartbeat down because I was so scared for Nathan. Half Bad is perhaps the best book I have read this year and I am looking forward to the next one in the series.


Wednesday, June 4, 2014

One Night in Italy - Lucy Diamond

One Night in Italy is Lucy Diamond's latest novel and it goes on sale in the UK today. It is a heart-warming story about friendship, family coming of age and getting over adversity.

Anna Morley is a journalist working on a local paper. She has a loser for a boyfriend and her job is going nowhere, fast. On a visit to the local elder care home where her grandma now lives, she suddenly gets information about her father which her mother has been reluctant to give her in the past. When she tries to get more details from her gran the cloud of confusion returns to her and there is nothing more to be said.

Catherine Evans life of servitude and emotional abuse is about to come to a crashing halt. After dropping off her twins to their respective universities, she realises her life has been dedicated to them and now wonders what on earth she will do without them at home. Arriving back home earlier than planned she finds her husband in their bed with another woman. Can it be true? Have the last twenty years been a lie? She is about to find out.

Sophie Frost lives in beautiful Sorrento. She has been travelling the world for the past eight years and has been to some amazing places. Italy is currently her love and for the last two years she has lived in the country she now thinks of as home. That is until the day she receives a phone call from her cousin to tell her of her father's heart attack. Of course, she must go home and face those things she has been running away from since she left all those years ago.

These three women and several other characters find themselves thrown together when they attend an Italian Class for beginners at the local college. They each have their own reason for being there and over the weeks of the course they grow close and begin to support each other in ways they could not have imagined before the course began.

It is a lovely story and I scarfed it up in only two sittings. As well as likeable characters the story contains lovely references to Italy, Italian food and of course a basic lesson in the language. Lucy Diamond is a great favourite of mine and One Night in Italy is arguably her best novel so far.


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

At Least You're in Tuscany - Jennifer Criswell

At Least You're in Tuscany is an autobiographical story about Jennifer Criswell, who leaves her settled life in the New York City to live in Montepulciano, Tuscany. We follow her through her first year there as she deals with finding work, Italian bureaucracy and making friends.

Hers is an interesting journey filled with disasters and triumphs, often amusing, sometimes frustrating but never dull. It is a very frank memoir and an enjoyable read. She makes some good friends, gets the gossip mill running, makes some dubious decisions and ultimately finds some peace in the place she loves. The Italian countryside makes a wonderful backdrop to this true story of self discovery.